by Mitch on November 28, 2011 0 Comments

The 3rd Wisconsin awaits orders to charge the Spanish at Coamo

Puerto Rican and Spanish troops in Guayama

Puerto Rico was one of only two remaining Spanish possessions in the Western Hemisphere when it became the target of American efforts to rid the Caribbean of Spanish influence in the Spanish-American War. Though the main fighting of the war took place in Cuba, which was secured by 17 July 1898, Puerto Rico seemed a tempting target. The Spanish government here was more liberal than in Cuba, allowing the Puerto Ricans a modicum of self-rule, but the Americans were perceived as liberators who would give the island its independence rather than hold it as a colony.


General Nelson Miles commanded the 3,300 troops who landed on the island on 21 July 1898. Fearing a direct attack on the capital of San Juan would prove too costly, they first captured the port ...

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by Mitch on November 28, 2011 0 Comments

Italian forces move into British Somaliland.

During the widespread European colonization in the latter part of the nineteenth century, Somalia became the target of both British and Italian ambitions. The British arrived much earlier, negotiating treaties for harbor facilities in 1840. By the middle 1880s, the British had negotiated agreements with a number of northern tribes and established a protectorate of sorts. The British wanted to control the local supply of foodstuffs to supply their major port of Aden, just to the north across the Gulf of Aden. They ultimately established the colony of Somaliland and finalized a border with Ethiopia in 1897.


Meanwhile, the Italians were slowly acquiring control over the southern part of the region, also by signing protection agreements. They took control of the lands of two rival sultans in 1889, at which time the Italians informed them that as of the Berlin Conference five years earlier ...

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Malakand Field Force (1897)

by Mitch on November 26, 2011 3 Comments

South Malakand Camp, August 1897

Pashtun tribesmen attacking a British–held fort in 1897

The ambush and murder in the Tochi Valley of the political agent, Mr. H. A. Gee, and the commander and other soldiers of his military escort in early July 1897 sparked the general uprising of the Pathan tribes on the North - West Frontier of India. A punitive expedition, the Tochi Field Force, was organized and sent to castigate the perpetrators from the Madda Khel of the Isazais tribe.


The wave of religious fervor, coupled with tribal concerns about growing British power and the possible loss of independence, spread quickly to the Swat Valley. A warning to prepare for tribal unrest was sent to the Malakand Brigade, commanded by Colonel W. H. Meiklejohn with elements in two garrisons astride the line of communication with Chitral. In the fort at Malakand were one squadron, 11th Bengal Lancers; No ...

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General Sir Charles Warren, (1840–1927)

by Mitch on November 26, 2011 0 Comments

General Sir Charles Warren , a Royal Engineer officer, had a varied military career, most noteworthy for his archeological achievements and his command of British troops at the disastrous Battle of Spion Kop (23–24 January 1900) du ring the Second Boer War.


Warren was born in North Wales in 1840. His father was an Indi an Army officer who later became a general, and the younger Warren was seemingly destined for a military career. Warren was educated at Cheltenham and commissioned into the Royal Engineers in 1857.He conducted surveys of Gibraltar from 1858 to 1865, when he became an instructor at the School of Military Engineering at Chatham. Between 1867 and 1870 he carried out explorations in Palestine of the topography of ancient Jerusalem and the archaeology of the Temple Mount/Har am al - Sherif area.


In 1876, Warren surveyed the border between the Orange Free State and Griqualand ...

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Hitler’s Long-Term Aims

by Mitch on November 23, 2011 0 Comments

Did Hitler seek world conquest? The verdict is not entirely clear, but the evidence strongly suggests that he did, at least in some vague and distant sense. Hitler had once envisaged a two-phase strategy. His “Stufenplan” originally aimed at alliance with Britain, or at least to keep Britain neutral while he crushed France and the Soviet Union and created a Nazi superstate in control of Eurasia. That phase was to be completed by 1943–1945. Next, Hitler would implement his Z-Plan, framed in January 1939, which detailed a naval shipbuilding program for super battleships, aircraft carriers, and other blue water ships capable of defeating the Royal Navy. A critical point is that on July 11, 1940, he ordered work on a blue water navy theoretically capable of matching the U.S. Navy. At that moment he believed that the European war he started in Poland in 1939 was already won ...

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Book Review: Fezzes in the River: Identity Politics and European Diplomacy in the Middle East on the Eve of World War II.

by Mitch on November 21, 2011 0 Comments

Sarah D. Shields. Fezzes in the River: Identity Politics and European Diplomacy in the Middle East on the Eve of World War II. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011. xi + 306 pp. $39.95 (cloth), ISBN 978-0-19-539331-6.

Reviewed by David Getman (Rice University)
Published on H-Empire (November, 2011)
Commissioned by Charles V. Reed

A "Travesty of Self-Determination": The Inscription of Turkish Identity in the Sanjak of Alexandretta, 1936-39

Sarah Shields’s Fezzes in the River is the second book-length study in English of the 1936-39 contest between French-occupied Syria and Turkey over possession of the former Ottoman Sanjak (province) of Alexandretta, known since 1939 as the southern Turkish province of Hatay.[1] Broadly, Shields argues that the trend of European diplomacy toward appeasement in the 1930s rapidly eroded the willingness of France and the ability of the League of Nations to guarantee the right to self-determination in the Sanjak--extended to its ...

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Book Review: Frontiers of Violence in North-East Africa: Genealogies of Conflict since c.1800.

by Mitch on November 16, 2011 0 Comments

Richard J. Reid. Frontiers of Violence in North-East Africa: Genealogies of Conflict since c.1800. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011. 296 pp. $99.00 (cloth), ISBN 978-0-19-921188-3.

Reviewed by Matteo Salvadore (Gulf University for Science and Technology)
Published on H-Africa (November, 2011)
Commissioned by Brett L. Shadle

Salvadore on "Frontiers of Violence in NE Africa'

Frontiers of Violence is a thoroughly researched contribution to the historiography of the Horn’s many enduring conflicts. It focuses on the contested borderlands between Eritrea and Ethiopia as a way to understand much of the region’s political violence and instability. Reid takes a long-term approach that reaches back to key early modern developments such as the Zamana Masafent, the Adali-Ethiopian War, and the Oromo expansion. The result is a monograph of great interest that should not only appeal to Horn, African, and Middle Eastern studies specialists, but also those interested in failed states ...

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The Boer Wars

by Mitch on November 11, 2011 0 Comments


Botha was a charismatic leader and the principal Boer commander in the Second Boer War. He eventually made peace with the British and later became the first prime minister of the Union of South Africa.


The superior infantry tactics of the Boers helped them inflict a series of shocking defeats on the British Army in the opening stages of the Second Boer War


As the great century of imperial expansion began to wane, weapons technology was beginning to disseminate. Native Americans, Afghans, Abyssinians and Sudanese were among many indigenous forces now equipped with firearms and cannon, though their quality remained inferior and their troops' training poor. By 1899, the British Army had become masters of fighting colonial wars. The major problems in such conflicts usually revolved around logistics and the ability to project British military power into the farthest reaches of the globe ...

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Boer Weapons and Tactics

by Mitch on November 11, 2011 0 Comments


Descendants of Dutch settlers, the Boers were devoutly religious, and learned to ride and shoot from an early age. They lacked discipline, but were formidable adversaries.

The Boers recognized the danger from Britain and spent money throughout the 1890s purchasing modern weaponry, including artillery, from various European powers. Their artillery would prove to be very good during the coming conflict, but it was the Mauser rifles they purchased from Germany that made the Boers such formidable soldiers. Already expert riflemen, the Boers found in the Mauser M1889 a superb weapon, ideal for their style of fighting. With a five-shot magazine and reliable bolt action, the Mauser fired a heavy 8mm (0.3in) round with deadly accuracy. On the open veldt of southern Africa, the Boers were able to deliver lethally accurate rifle fire at incredible distances.


Virtually every Boer rode to battle on horseback, but they ...

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The Japanese Empire as an Anomaly

by Mitch on November 7, 2011 1 Comment

Viscount Kodama Gentarō (16 March 1852 – 23 July 1906) was a general in the Imperial Japanese Army, and government minister during Meiji period Japan. He was instrumental in establishing the modern Imperial Japanese military.


Although the Japanese empire fit comfortably within the late nineteenth-century scramble for colonies and strategic position initiated in the West, certain factors distinguish Japan from its Western counterparts. Most fundamentally, as a former victim of Great Power imperialism, Japan’s rise in international status lagged behind that of the other industrial nations, and Japanese empire-building through 1914 remained an exercise in catch-up. Heavy reliance on Western models, and technical and material support was an important consequence of the particular timing of Japan’s emergence on the world stage, as was the intensely political and top-down quality of Japanese expansion. Japan remained primarily an agricultural economy until the eve of the Sino-Japanese War in 1894, whereas emigration ...

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Entente Cordiale (1904)

by Mitch on November 7, 2011 0 Comments

Contemporary illustration of Major Marchand's trek across Africa.

A “friendly understanding,” the Entente Cordiale was an agreement signed on April 8, 1904, between France and Britain resolving longstanding colonial grievances. The agreement initiated a policy of Anglo-French cooperation and served as the embryo for the Triple Entente between Britain, France, and Russia during World War I.


Before the entente, Britain focused on maintaining a policy of “splendid isolation” from continental European affairs, and France became increasingly preoccupied with the preservation of its security after its 1871 defeat by Prussia, which subsequently unified a German state. A temporary shift in German policy, emphasizing relations with Britain, prompted Russia to fear isolation. France, seeking an ally against Germany, sought an 1891 Russian entente and eventually signed a military pact in 1894 that became a cornerstone of foreign policy for both countries.


Recent developments in Egypt had strained France’s relations with ...

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